Thursday, September 24, 2015

25 Golden Moments

Tonight is birthday eve.

I love to celebrate birthday eve because the years are always so good and they deserve a proper send off. Tomorrow I'll try on 26 by heading off to Canada and introducing myself to Niagara Falls along the way; but for right now I'm just basking in the absolutely wonderful golden year I have had. 25, you have been full of precious memories, accomplishments and new experiences. I will remember you fondly. 

I promised myself 25 "golden moments" throughout the year, and here they are:

1. I became an aunt. Lizabeth Charlotte Russ (a.k.a. Lizzy, a.k.a LC, a.k.a. Fat Baby) was born in late October and instantly became my most favorite human. 

2. Thanksgiving: FINALLY meeting Fat Baby in real life! Friends. Family. Deep fried turkey. Swimming with Manatees. It was perfect and I loved every second of it! 

3. I got a job that I love! I work for the Partnership for Public Service helping to develop strong leaders for our federal government. 

4. Everyone should live with people they love. I have roommates that I love. Sometimes this means that I get the +1 invite to fancy work Christmas parties since a significant other is lacking. Swanky monuments cruise with awesome dinner and dancing? Totally worth people assuming that I'm a lesbian for the evening.  

5. Celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve in Florida. There's just something about breezy Florida winters that lead to crazy Christmas parties, absurdly large bon fires and laughing with the humans I love most in the world. 

6. Visiting Canada. The reason for my trip was heartbreaking, but the people that I went to see will forever be dear to my heart. I love the Lowry family and I am so glad to know that families are eternal. I love their examples of strength and faith. I am blessed to know them. 

7. Traveling Iceland with Julie and my mom. I may have spent a ridiculous amount of time asleep in the back seat of a car but I still climbed basalt columns and I learned that Iceland has four guardians: the bull, the eagle, a giant, and a dragon. 

8. Kayaking in Annapolis. There is no better way to ring in spring. 

9. Easter with my family. Aunty time with Fat Baby and making an assortment of deviled eggs with my mom and sister.

10. A spontaneous trip to Cancun. One Friday in April my coworkers asked me, "what are your weekend plans, Jari?" And I got to answer "Oh, I decided this morning that I want to go to Cancun, so I bought a ticket and I'm flying out after work." It was the best weekend decision I think I've ever made. 

11. I became a very dedicated fan. Two words: Nardo Lilly. My friend Annie is an incredible musician and I have had a blast stalking her shows. You should watch one of her performances here, and then go like her facebook page here. No, but really, go like her page! She is the perfect combination of talent and wit. I adore her! 

12. Touring Italy with Blake, Annalee and Lizzy. A. Italy is just stinking awesome with beautiful things to see everywhere. B. Annalee and Blake are my two dearest friends. If you would have told me 8 years ago that at 25 I would be driving around Tuscany in the middle of the night with Blake, Annalee and a baby I wouldn't have believed that such an incredible trip would possibly happen--but it did, and it was the best! C. Did you know that you can silence and entire block of drunk partiers by whisper shouting "SLEEPING BABY, QUIET PLEASE!" Because you can. 

13. I took a solo trip to Istanbul. I haven't traveled alone since I was in South Africa, and I was nervous. Thankfully, I had a blast. If you are ever in Istanbul I highly recommend you take a Turkish bath. 

14. Spontaneous camping (sometimes trips are better when you plan them last minute). My friend Kyle and I were driving around one Saturday and he asked if I had plans for the evening. I didn't, but I mentioned that it would be so nice to go camping. So we grabbed my roommate, bought some brats and headed out. It was beautiful!

15. Philly! Philly! Philly! I finally made it to Philadelphia! I ran the Rocky steps while a group of men attempted to sing the Rocky theme song, and I ate (and loved) a Philly cheesesteak. 

16. Regular camping. I didn't grow up camping too much, Florida is just too hot for that business. I knew I loved the outdoors and I knew I liked camping, but this year was the first time that I did a lot of it and it was fabulous. I have a group of friends that would draw the envy of Taylor Swift and I loved adventuring Shenandoah with them. 

17. Walk the Moon in concert. SHUT UP AND DANCE WITH ME! This was probably the most fun I have had at a concert since Mika in 2007. 

18. The Fourth of July. Okay, one more camping story. There was talk of an ISIS attack on the Fourth and I didn't want to be near DC if that happened, so I convinced some other friends to flee with me and we took off to the mountains. We roasted an entire chicken for one of our dinners, met a pair of thru hikers on the Appalachian trail, got caught in a rain storm while hiking and puddle fought our way back to our was just beautiful on all fronts. I love being outside for days with friends who are awesome problem solvers and good for conversation.

19. My roommate's favorite band is A Silent Film and I have grown to love them because of her. Then she landed tickets to a secret room concert and we ended up with 30 strangers in a church painted random neon colors for an intimate concert. I was featured on the pear shaped shaker for one of the songs, I can feel my big break coming. 

20. Trail Magic comes to DC. Those thru hikers we met took a pit stop in DC and treated us to Indian food. I could listen to stories of the trail forever. 

21. The Russtache Family Beach Trip. I adore my brother-in-law and his family. I love their senses of humor. I love their kindness. I love playing games with them. I love them for letting me hang around at family events like this. 

22. A new house! Moving is kind of the worst, but living in an adorable house in an awesome town with my soulmate roommates--that's the best. 

23. Once. You should go see this musical right now. It made we want to stomp and holler then cry all within 135 minutes. 

24. Mama came to visit. We have talked about her coming to visit for ages, but she finally made it here! Taking her to Mt. Vernon and showing her around my town was a treat. Now she finally has an idea of all the things and places I chat about. 

25. After three versions of the book and about a year of reading I finally finished reading Les Mis, and it was beautiful. 

Good-bye, my golden year. You have been practically perfect in every way!